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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington Senate Republicans Increase Spending, Reject Higher Taxes In Budget

Colin Fogarty
Northwest News Network files

Majority Republicans in the Washington state Senate unveiled a no-new-taxes budget Tuesday that would still boost spending by $4 billion.

The Senate plan stands in sharp contrast to a proposal last week from House Democrats. But House and Senate budget writers seem agree on one thing: a double-digit percentage increase in state spending is appropriate over the next two years.

How they get there is another matter.

Democrats propose a $1.5 billion tax package that includes a new capital gains tax. Senate Republicans want to sunset a dozen or so tax exemptions, but otherwise not raise taxes.

“I’ve said it before taxes should be the last resort and not the first response,” Senate budget committee chair Andy Hill said. “And at time when the state is collecting $37 billion over the next two years that’s $3 billion more than we had two years ago -- $3 billion. Citizens expect us to govern with what we have.”

Instead of raising taxes, the Senate Republican budget aims to spend about $1 billion less than House Democrats. It also spends less on pay raises for teachers and state employees.

Democratic Governor Jay Inslee called the Senate’s investment in K-12 and higher education “significant.” But he added that the budget “falls short” in a number of other areas.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."